The Relearning Place event series explored the concept of relearning and how this approach might encourage people to think differently in order to affect culture, policy and practice in design and placemaking.
Through a series of online and in-person events, the 2022/23 WEdesign series Relearning Place explored the role of communities and cross-sector collaboration in design and placemaking, and how the recent changes in political, economic, socio-cultural and environmental influences are altering how we respond, relate to and adapt the places where we live, work and play.
We asked what we need to unlearn in order to relearn and do things better.
Online, we invited participants to join us from around the country and further afield to explore relearning place through an online debate, an informal Glass-House Chat, and through a series of Think Pieces from contributors working across sectors and disciplines.
Working with our higher education partners, we returned to hosting fully in-person co-design events in Glasgow, Sheffield, London, and Newcastle, all of which were co-designed and co-facilitated with our university partner tutors and students.
All of our events were captured and shared with our networks through blogs written by both The Glass-House team and by our participating student facilitators.
We are hugely grateful to The Ove Arup Foundation, which is now helping to support our WEdesign programme and in particular, our accompanying educational programme and rich collaboration with our higher education partners and student facilitators.
In-person co-design events
WEdesign events are interactive spaces with co-design activities where students, practitioners, policymakers and citizens work together with The Glass-House, and students and tutors from our partner universities, to explore and co-design propositions to innovate design and placemaking.
For Relearning Place, we continued our collaboration with partners at The University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture, the Bartlett School of Planning at UCL and Mackintosh School of Architecture at Glasgow School of Art. We also welcomed a new partner, Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, through which we worked with students in Architecture and Urban Planning.
The Glass-House provided a programme of sessions to support the students’ participation in the events, and to introduce them to methods and tools for both co-design and facilitation.
Each of our partners collaborated with us on our in-person events, where the theme was linked into the students’ work and studies:
In Newcastle, REvalue explored the value we attribute to our places (be it financial, cultural, historical or environmental) and how this affects our relationship with the built and natural worlds around us. In Sheffield, REdistribute invited participants to explore what role redistribution has in decolonising our contemporary places. In Glasgow, REdefine explored the principles and theories behind creating a feminist urban realm. And finally, in London, REpurpose explored how we can reduce our collective footprint on the world around us by rethinking the ways in which we use our cities and places.
REvalue – Civic Centre, Newcastle
22 February 2023
In our first in-person event of the series, we collaborated with students and tutors from Newcastle University’s innovative Architecture and Urban Planning degree course. As part of this event we used creative co-design activities to consider how we reevaluate and redefine neglected places with the communities who use, work, live and play in them.
The event included:
- An interactive activity designed and delivered by the students based on a neglected area of Newcastle, which included an interactive map for participants to give their thoughts and opinions about what this location meant to them.
- An introduction by tutor, Armelle Tardiveau, who gave context to the REvalue theme and how it connects to the students work.
- A co-design task facilitated by the students which explored the event theme using four lenses which focused the discussion around either policy, ecology, education or community.
- A fruitful discussion where participants were able to come back together to explore their ideas and thoughts following their collaborative task.
Read the REvalue event blog here.
Read the associated student blog here.
REdistribute – The Arts Tower, Sheffield
1 March 2023
Hosted by The University of Sheffield, this event was delivered in collaboration with tutor Leo Care and BA Architecture students from the Sheffield School of Architecture as well as Live Works, the University’s urban room. The event was framed with the question: what do we need to relearn about our places and how we can redistribute power, assets and resources within placemaking and the built environment?
The evening brought together a diverse group of students, community activists and built environment professionals to reflect on the global influences and challenges we face.
At this event:
- Leo Care, Director of Student Experience and Third year course leader for the undergraduate architecture course, introduced this event by contextualising the theme and showing examples of the students’ work.
- The students facilitated a fast paced co-design activity which encouraged event participants and student facilitators to work together to explore the theme of redistribution through the lenses of community, education, practice and ecology.
- At the end we came together as a group for a discussion where we pulled out some common threads and provocations that had emerged throughout the evening.
Read the REdistribute event blog here.
Read the associated student blog here.
REdefine – Civic House, Glasgow
8 March 2023 – International Women’s Day
For this event on International Women’s Day 2023, we worked in collaboration with postgraduate students and tutors from Mackintosh School of Architecture, at Glasgow School of Art, to explore how Glasgow and other cities across the UK can be redefined as feminist spaces.
In addition to their facilitation roles, the students created interactive activities for our participants and dressed the event space with a series of provocative photo prompts, inspired by the idea of feminist spaces and design.
At this event:
- Glasgow Councillor Holly Bruce gave an introduction about her recently passed motion calling for feminist centred town planning, which offered a provocation and inspiration for discussion at the event.
- Tutors Miranda Webster and Isabel Deakin from Glasgow School of Art and Missing in Architecture, introduced their students and the work they have been doing as part of their course.
- Participants took part in a co-design activity facilitated by the students exploring how feminist spaces, theories and practices can make a more inclusive and equitable built environment for us all.
- Jules Scheele, a Glasgow-based illustrator, created a live illustration which captured the emerging ideas and themes from the evening’s discussion and activities.
Read the REdefine event blog here.
Read the associated student blog here.
REpurpose – UCL, London
28 March 2023
REpurpose was our final event of the series, in partnership with and hosted by UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning in London. This event explored how we can repurpose the placemaking landscape around us to create more equitable and inclusive places while supporting and enhancing both local and global sustainability.
This event featured:
- An introduction by our longstanding collaborator Dr Lucy Natarajan, who is Associate Professor and Director of MSc Sustainable Urbanism at the Bartlett.
- A co-design activity led by and a group of MA and PhD students which encouraged participants to to consider what changes to our culture, policy or practice would help us repurpose the way we shape places for the benefit of our people and our planet.
- An insightful discussion which pulled out some common threads of conversation including the power of repurposing as a disruptive tool.
Read the REpurpose event blog here.
Read the associated student blog here.
Relearning Place: Student Blogs
Relearning Place: Student blogs are a series of online blogs by our WEdesign students, giving a taste of their experience of planning and facilitating the live event. We invited one student from each of our partner universities to write a short blog about taking part in WEdesign from their perspective and what they have taken away from the experience of taking part in WEdesign.
You can read our Relearning Place: Student Blogs here.
RElearning Place: The Debate
Our public event series kicked off with Relearning Place: The Debate. This online event enabled participants who do not live near the location of our in-person events to take part and join the conversation around our series theme. We were joined by over 40 participants dialling in from around the country and internationally.
Using the theme of Relearning Place as our starting point, we invited four diverse speakers to offer their provocations on what they think “relearning” can help us achieve in creating more inclusive, vibrant and sustainable places, through a series of five-minute presentations.
The speakers were:
- Johanna Gibbons: a landscape architect
- David Ubaka: an architect and urban designer
- Erika Rushton: an artist and economist
- Shankari Raj: an architect, educator and agitator
This was followed by a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion with generous contributions from the event attendees.
You can read more about Relearning Place: The Debate here:
Glass-House Chats: How Can We Relearn Our Places?
This was a special edition Glass-House Chat that formed part of this year’s WEdesign series. The Chat touched on a few key themes including relearning our relationship with places and land, conversations around the relearning of spaces and who uses them and how we prioritise the needs of our communities and our planet. We were joined by a diverse group of placemakers, including students, academics and professionals from across sectors.
You can read more about How Can We Relearn Our Places here.
Relearning Place: Think Pieces
This year, we introduced a series of Think Pieces into the WEdesign programme, a series of online blogs where we invited an external contributor to take one of our event themes as a starting point for provocation and discussion. This series of Think Pieces by Rowena Hay, Jenny Dunn, David Rudlin and Nick Maylan offered a space for a range of external voices from communities, practice and education to explore our WEdesign event themes and produce a series of interesting, engaging and quite personal blogs.
Our Relearning Place: Think Pieces series is available to read in full on our website here.
This year we have expanded our programme to include both in-person and online events and blog content. By bringing a debate element, as well as integrating other Glass-House projects, like our Chat series and Think Pieces, we have been able to extend our reach and fully explore the Relearning Place theme. We are grateful for the generosity of our event attendees from across the country as well as the partnership of our collaborating university partners.
Relearning Place has been a successful return to fully in-person co-design events around the country, and we have enjoyed bringing people back together through hands-on, creative co-design activities.
We have also enjoyed working with our partners to create bespoke learning experiences for their students through our WEdesign events. For students, this collaboration created important opportunities to benefit from interaction with a diverse, cross-sector and interdisciplinary audience as a space to further develop their learning, and to test and progress their thinking on their developing academic work.
Relearning Place saw our partners and students working with us to innovate our event spaces, as they introduced new layers of activity and props, even dressing and curating our event spaces. This was a new level of co-design and co-facilitation with our higher education partners, and with our student co-facilitators.
This series has really cemented our collaboration with our university partners which has led to some exciting impact including tutors integrating co-design methodology into their teaching and learning and students applying co-design methods outside of the WEdesign programme.
“I now know I can do this! (facilitate). If I had not been given this opportunity to take part, I would not have known I could!”
“I am grateful for how accommodating The Glass-House team and participants were for my needs and I was left feeling confident and able to participate freely. My accessibility requirements are a reminder of the many feminist issues we should all consider in co-design, it is vital that we work hard to make sure all voices are included and heard.”
“I particularly enjoyed listening to different views and new perspectives from people outside the architecture discipline, especially exchanging shared experiences and understanding uncommon backgrounds.”
“I think it’s a fun and interesting activity to partake in, especially during our stressful year. It gave us a short break to do something new and to question what we are doing and why…”
“It has been great to feel like I’m part of something outside of the educational framework.”
“I feel more confident, it’s not as scary to facilitate as i thought it would be.”
“The event was brilliantly organised and prepared for! Lovely people and thought provoking!”
“This was much needed. More events like this should be happening to break down silos.”
“The event made me feel confident to think out loud!”
“I will continue questioning designers and architects in my practice but importantly question my own practice.”
“I enjoyed connecting and talking to new people, learning about their lives and experiences”
“The student facilitators were absolutely excellent, the future looks bright!”
Relearning Place Summary Publication here.
Relearning Place: The Debate by Louise Dennison.
Glass-House Chats: How Can We Relearn Our Places? by Elly Mead.
Relearning Place: Think Pieces:
REvalue by Rowena Hay .
REdistribute by Jenny Dunn.
REdefine by David Rudlin.
REpurpose by Nick Malyan.
Relearning Place Co-design Event Blogs
REvalue by Louise Dennison.
REdistribute by Jake Stephenson-Bartley.
REdefine by Elly Mead.
REpurpose by Sophia de Sousa.
Relearning Place: Student Blogs:
REvalue, co-authored by Architecture and Urban Planning students from Newcastle School of Architecture and Planning.
REdistribute by Zeyana Khamis Al-Aamri, a RIBA Part 1 final year student from Sheffield School of Architecture.
REdefine by Abby Hopes from Mackintosh School of Architecture.
REpurpose by Maria Ilia Kastrouni a PhD researcher from Bartlett School of Planning.